Internet service providers AT&T and Comcast outlined their efforts to work with the music industry to combat online piracy during a panel session at the Leadership Music Digital Summit in Nashville this week.
Contrary to earlier reports, neither ISP has threatened to disable the Internet access of any of their subscribers as part of a “graduated response” program—otherwise known as a “three strikes” policy—advocated by the RIAA.
Instead, the ISPs are sending letters to customers identified by the RIAA informing them that some kind of copyright infringement has taken place on their account, but with no planned action outlined.
A Comcast spokesman clarified that the notices are part of on ongoing policy of responding to copyright owners complaints.
"Comcast, like other major ISPs, forwards notices of alleged infringement that we receive from music, movie, videogame, and other content owners to our customers,” he says. “This is the same process we've had in place for years-- nothing has changed. While we have always supported copyright holders in their efforts to reduce piracy under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), and continue to do so, we have no plans to test a so-called 'three-strikes-and-you're-out' policy."
Ever since the RIAA late last year said it would end its litigation campaign against individual file-sharing users in favor of a new strategy that enlists ISPs to police their networks, speculation has run rampant over exactly which companies were involved.
Under the RIAA’s plan, it would provide the ISPs with the IP addresses of users suspected of uploading music to unauthorized P2P networks, and the ISP would then send those users a notice informing them their account could be deactivated unless they stop.
Needless to say, the issue is a highly sensitive and controversial one for the ISPs, and they are approaching it with a great degree of care. Last October, Cox Communications began sending similar notifications, warning users it may “temporarily disable” the accounts of users found to have shared copyrighted files.